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Policeman 'offered rape probe deal'

A police officer accused of raping vulnerable women was offered a "get out of jail free card" and was told his own force would stop investigating him if he quit, a trial has heard.

A jury at Newcastle Crown Court learned how Pc Stephen Mitchell, who is accused of attacking a string of women he met while on duty in and around Newcastle, was told Northumbria Police detectives would "stop digging" if he stepped down, but he risked going to jail and going on the sex offenders register if he refused.

Mitchell, 43, formerly of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, secretly taped a conversation with senior investigating officer DCI Chris Sharman in which the offer was made in March, QC Toby Hedworth told the trial on Thursday.

DCI Sharman is alleged to have told Mitchell that if he was charged, he would "probably be front page of the national newspapers and they are horrible".

By not taking up the offer and fighting the claims, Mitchell had shown he was innocent, Mr Hedworth told the jury.

However, prosecutors have denied the recording was an offer to have the investigation dropped, while Mitchell has staunchly denied all the allegations against him.

The Northumbria Police officer, from Glasgow, told the trial there was "no truth whatsoever" he had coerced women he'd arrested into sex.

Earlier, it was alleged in court that Mitchell would promise to "do favours" for the women in custody and would then demand sexual favours in return. He was arrested after one of 16 women he is alleged to have assaulted went to the police.

He denies five counts of rape, six indecent assaults and 15 counts of misconduct in a public office.

The trial continues.

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